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Old 03-21-2012, 08:22 PM   #1
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I have spoken about my turf scrubber for a while now and thought it was time to expose those that don't understand this remarkable way to maintain a reef.

Dr Walter Addy in the book "Dynamic Aquaria-- Building Living Ecosystems" started it for me about 25 years ago. From high school thru college I had several freshwater fish stores that I supplied from a 200 tank breeding facility I setup. This gave me a pretty good background when I decided to personally get into saltwater in the early 80's. During that time it was kind of a killing field as few had the talent to keep coral, much less grow it.

I went thru the various stages, bio balls, canister filters, siphon overflows...the works. Then the Berlin method came along and I found I could ditch the bio balls for more live rock and the canister filter was replaced with a protein skimmer. All was well...except that when I fed my fish and coral, algae grew everywhere.

No amount of snails, algae eaters or other solutions seemed to work and I didn't want to keep my tank lights off or stop feeding just to try to stop the algae...besides even that didn't work. Then I read Dr. Addy's book and understood the idea of a dynamic aquarium.

Algae is the oceans friend...and it should be mine as well. It was a matter of harnessing it for good works rather than evil. In the Dynamic Aquarium, there are several things happening. For example, not using a fine filter so particulates circulate constantly. Tank water isn't Gin clear, but it helps keep some food stuff circulating for polyps.

The biggest concept was algae turf scrubbing (ATS) to me. In its simplest form it is a small sump with a dump bucket that spills water over a easy to clean grating material. That grating is being blasted by very close lights so the PAR is many times what is in the display tank. This is generally run while the display tank lights are out and is very effective with PH stabilization. It starves the nutrients from the water and concentrates them in the algae, which you can dispose of or re-feed to your herbivores. Very simple and very effective. No chemicals, no wild swings...very stable and that is what reef keeping is all about...stable.

In the following posts I will show my algae turf scrubbing system that has been running for almost 20 years now. It dumps 1.5 gallons every 10 seconds...that's 62 million dumps so far. If you can work with acrylic it is a straight forward DIY task to build one. But there are many different designs and many can be done at home.
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Old 03-21-2012, 09:00 PM   #2
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Thanks for sharing your experience. Many of us would agree with ATS being one of the best ideas in the SW hobby. I'm adopting this for my FW tank as soon as I have the resources.
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Old 03-22-2012, 04:40 AM   #3
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Terrance I'd be interested in learning more about how you adapted this concept for your FW set-up (or plans for it). Thanks
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Old 03-22-2012, 05:32 AM   #4
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Where's the pics man?
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Old 03-22-2012, 12:41 PM   #5
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I work for emergency responders...so when the phone rings...I am running like mad. Will get the pictures posted ASAP. Thanks for the interest!
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Old 03-22-2012, 07:32 PM   #6
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Hey Greg I have a question about a scrubber I'm planning. It's a 45 gallon tank and my plan for the scrubber is a CPR 300gph overflow and a mag 5 return pump and a 10 by 10 screen. I was curious if this sounds like a good setup .
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Old 03-22-2012, 07:51 PM   #7
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Sounds good. If you can make the water surge over the algae growing area you will be better off as more algae will grow. The size of the growing area really only controls how often you have to harvest it.
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Old 03-22-2012, 08:01 PM   #8
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Thanks. When you say try make it surge do you mean with ball valves to restrict flow and create turbulence in the screen feed pipe?
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Old 03-22-2012, 09:05 PM   #9
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Turbulence will help, but I use a small dump bucket that creates a small wave. The growing surface is only just over a inch underwater, so the wave causes the algae to shift position which allows it to grow denser. That isn't a critical point but it raises the efficiency of the scrubber.
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Old 03-22-2012, 09:51 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gilbertgal View Post
Terrance I'd be interested in learning more about how you adapted this concept for your FW set-up (or plans for it). Thanks
Its the exact same thing as people who do it for SW tanks. You can do it several different ways, so you just have to make it as simple or complicated as you wish. I did it the way that I like it: 2nd pump inside my sump to run water through a ATS.

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Old 03-23-2012, 02:46 AM   #11
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Red face

I agree simple is better! So Terrance, is it just pond matrix that you use, or do you also incorporate live flora? I have my DIY FW sump set up with bio media also, but I'd like to incorporate a good nitrogen sink to handle nitrates as well. I just haven't decided on the right plant/moss for the job.
SORRY for hijacking your post Greg... I eagerly await your updates
I'll start my own thread
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Old 03-23-2012, 09:36 PM   #12
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I wanted to use water lettuce, but the flow in my sump will be too fast for any plants and my sump is too small. Best plants are the ones that emerge from the water (or floating plants) and grow fast. Algae, water lettuce, and hyacinth are the best for soaking up nutrients because they are exposed to air and grow extremely fast. Usually, they suck up all nutrients and leave other types of plants starving (the water lettuce/hyacinth block the light going to the plants under them). Pond Matrix is suppose to decrease nitrAte, but I'm still trialing it. The lights for the ATS is suppose to be turned off at least 6hrs per day, so the Pond Matrix is suppose to filter the water until the lights turn on again.
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Old 07-06-2012, 06:18 PM   #13
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A few new pictures. I just harvested a 5 gallon bucket full of coral for the LFS and only 30 days later I can't tell I did it. Added 80 gallon's to the sump and a second protein skimmer along with the old algae scrubber. Lots of fish and I feed a lot as well and my Hanaa reports my worst Phosphate was .07 and is usually under .05. So everything is still working. Adding 125 gallon coral frag tank next month and am doing a moving light setup. Will post pictures.
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Old 07-06-2012, 06:22 PM   #14
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I forgot about this thread . Glad to see you are still on the forum . I always respected your opinion. Well my scrubber is a few months old now. It's starting to cure my cyano slowly but my nitrates have been holding steady at 4 ppm. Here is a pic of what I usually harvest from the screen weekly .
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Old 07-06-2012, 06:29 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gregcoyote
A few new pictures. I just harvested a 5 gallon bucket full of coral for the LFS and only 30 days later I can't tell I did it. Added 80 gallon's to the sump and a second protein skimmer along with the old algae scrubber. Lots of fish and I feed a lot as well and my Hanaa reports my worst Phosphate was .07 and is usually under .05. So everything is still working. Adding 125 gallon coral frag tank next month and am doing a moving light setup. Will post pictures.
Wow,...amazing mushroom garden,..totally amazing!!!
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Old 07-06-2012, 06:43 PM   #16
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Yeah, the LFS loves them, the red ones have the blue dots all over them. I plan on having a system to propagate them and a few others as they grow like weeds.
You can see some of the scratches I need to polish out on this 20 year old acrylic aquarium.
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Old 07-06-2012, 07:11 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gregcoyote
Yeah, the LFS loves them, the red ones have the blue dots all over them. I plan on having a system to propagate them and a few others as they grow like weeds.
You can see some of the scratches I need to polish out on this 20 year old acrylic aquarium.
Greg , you've raised the " bar" very high for the rest of us,...truly an amazing garden.,... And you know how I love those mushrooms! ..Just out of curiosity ,what are your normal water parameters??
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Old 07-06-2012, 07:38 PM   #18
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Greg how long does it take to make a mushroom carpet like you have? My next build I want a striated angler and a shroom carpet covering the whole bottom just like you have in your tank .
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Old 07-06-2012, 10:44 PM   #19
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Mushroom carpet took almost 15 years of growth to completely fill in. It now controls the growth of some other aggressive corals. You can't move stuff around much to get this effect over a long period of time. Makes tank cleaning a real challenge. In fact, the majority of the mushroom growth was during a time when I wasn't maintaining the system as well as usual. Just goes to show...reefs can be unpredictable.

Water parameters:

77F varies less than .2 degrees
PH 7.9-8.2 (old tank)
sp 1.025
phosphate < .07 usually <.05
Ammonia not detectable
Calcium 520
Alk 11-12

Thanks for the nice compliments. As everyone else, I have my eye on the big one. In my case I want to go even bigger, like 1000 gallons. Then I'll feel good about moving the mushroom garden.
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Old 07-22-2012, 02:55 PM   #20
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Some new pictures. The little acro has taken off all at once. Sorry for the quality, just some quick camera phone shots.
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